No relaxation on quarantine for imported bananas

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 8th February 2011

The Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) has welcomed the announcement by Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Senator Joe Ludwig that Australia will not relax food quarantine arrangements in response to Cyclone Yasi.

Banana growers across Far North Queensland, in particular Innisfail and Tully, have been the worst affected by Tropical Cyclone Yasi, which makes the second devastating weather event in the area in less than five years.

ABGC President Cameron MacKay said the industry is relieved the Federal Government reiterated there will be no compromise to the nation’s strict quarantine risk analysis assessment, which protects Australia’s pest and disease-free status.

“With 75 per cent of our industry currently affected by Cyclone Yasi, this has been an extremely difficult time for our growers,” MacKay said.

“Banana imports are not permitted because of the associated pest and disease risks that are found in other major banana producing countries, therefore it is really important that banana plantations are back in production as soon as possible,” he said.

MacKay went on to say that many growers will take up the Gillard Government’s offer of immediate assistance.

“We will continue discussions with the Gillard Government and we also have an opportunity to talk with Queensland Primary Industries Minister Tim Mulherin this week to discuss further options,” MacKay said.

“It is vital that we receive the support necessary to get back to full production as soon as possible.”

MacKay also called for support from Australia’s banana-hungry consumers during the interruption in supply for the next four months

“We ask that our consumers understand that the interruption of supply is caused by something completely outside growers’ control,” he said.

“It is very important for our families, our workers, our economy and all Australian consumers that we get the mess cleared away as soon as possible, so that our crops can be replanted and buildings restored to be able to get fruit back on the shelves sooner rather than later,” he said.